Take A Break With Some Nice Things!
Hamper Cat by Wonkette Operative 'Horrible Pourable'

It's Sunday, which means it's time for Nice Things, which you may have heard we can't have, bu au contraire, Pessimism Puss! -- we have them right here, hurrah! And as many of you already knew, Yr. Dok Zoom's gone and fallen in love with a kitty that he'll be bringing home Monday or Tuesday, depending on when he gets his apartment cleaned up. Kids, say hi to Thornton:

If Thornton decides to shred our already sad-looking couch, we're OK with that. He's the nice thing, after all. But we'll buy a good sturdy scratching post anyway.

More Thornton!

I wasn't really looking to bring a cat home when I swung by the PetSmart last Sunday, but isn't that how most pet adoptions work? Thornton came out of his cage, rubbed around my ankles a little, and jumped immediately into my lap. I don't think I've ever met a friendlier cat, at least on first meeting.

To be strictly accurate, this photo would be the second meeting, when I went back with respected political pundit Our Girlfriend. Thornton is six years old, and people kept falling for him when they met him, but then when they found out he needs some really spendy prescription food for a urinary condition, they decided nah. I decided that since Wonkette rescued me from paycheck to paycheckness (thank you all AGAIN!), I could afford to take the big doofus in, and order Science Diet in bulk. So what I'm saying is, I have adopted me a cat although he's not home just yet. (He is not my first cat, in case you're wondering.)

Just look at this snugglebeast!

This is one regal cat. And now he's met Kid Zoom, too. Turns out he's (Thornton, not Kid) a shoulder percher, so I suppose I'll have to get accustomed to writing like like that.

Now I just have to head to Costco and lay in a year's supply of lint rollers.

The Right To Arm Bears

Robyn brought to my attention this perfectly wonderful bulletin board called Worldbuilding, where participants toss out science fiction/fantasy scenarios to get feedback on ideas that may make it into a writing project. We liked this question about how well bears might work as mounts for cavalry troops:
Over the course of history humanity rode several kinds of animals to war: horses, camels and elephants being the most common. However, bears are not amongst them.

So I was wondering, if they could be properly domesticated and/or trained, would bears be feasible as ridable animals in wartime situations?

A bear is a lot more fierce than a horse or dangerous than a camel, but less big of a target than an elephant. This of course also has to take things into consideration like being able to charge, marching speed, their diet, endurance and other such things.

Upside: fierceness. Downside: Bear biology, as one reply noted:

The key reason why this is not feasible, is down to endurance - Horses, Elephants and Camelids are native to areas with large plains, and migrations - they are effectively built to last for travel between points - which makes them ideal as beasts of burden. Bears, on the other hand, are built to conserve energy - they are (mostly) native to areas where there is more cover, and even if they are not a hibenatory species, they will go into a torpor to ensure less energy is used when little is available.
If you want an animal which would have the intimidation factor of a bear, and the endurance of a horse - I'd suggest an Auroch...

Other replies suggested ways to write around some of the inherent problems with bear cavalry:

Yes, but you have to flesh out your fictional world around it.

Lets assume your world has bear cavalry. That is a - fictional - fact (sic).

Lets also assume that this has been so for some centuries. There is a tradition of bear cavalry, and the kinks have already been solved.

Your bears are not only domesticated, but also selective bred from wild bear stock for some time now. They are to wild bears what dogs are to wolves now.

So, from the answers of my esteemed worldbuilders here, these are the characteristics your bears have been selected for:

1. Not eating their handlers.
2 More Stamina on extended sprints.
3. Profile. The war bears would have a better rider-supporting profile. Horses and camels allow the rider's legs to stay relatively stable, and an elephant is rigid enough to allow a howdaw. The bears need to bear a saddle of sorts. Give some thought to the design of this saddle. After all, if it is a bear cavalry, it is assumed the rider fights too, and not just steers the bear.
4. Diet. fgysin suggests eating the fallen enemies. I think that if this is done, it should be ingrained into the culture, into a sort of ritualistic proceeding of cleaning up the battlefield. Just allowing the bears to ravage the fallen is bad, since making the bears eat people can teach them how delicious they are. see #1.
5. Diet yet again. Maybe the bear cavalry works in your world because of some rare protein-rich plant that can be grown to feed the bears. This plant might be mild poisonous to humans, but bears can eat them without any issues.

Each answer is followed by room for discussion, where people get into the details of additional what-ifs. It's kind of amazing.

The site is a real treasure for people who want to build worlds that avoid the most obvious plot holes in a fictional scenario. It's basically like a key item from that old-timey internet tradition, Peter's Evil Overlord List:
12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

The questions are awesome, like how would a telekinetic race build its prisons? Or in an interplanetary war, what if one faction has highly advanced tech that can be partially defeated by another faction whose magic can shut down any computer with more advanced components than mid 1950s vacuum-tube jobbies. How would you get your fusion drive and magnetic accelerator cannons to work on a starship, if at all? Or how might you have realistic-ish stealth in a spaceship to hide from space pirates?

The fun thing is that the questioners set the limits of how much hard science and handwaving is allowed in the scenario: Fine, fine, you can have faster-than-light travel that ignores Einsteinian time problems, but... The canon of science fiction makes it into both questions and answers, too; and the thing is even searchable, so you can see how people bring other writers' fictional worlds so the discussion, too. Yes, The Left Hand of Darknessshows up in several discussions.

Return of Cussy Chicago Botany Guy!

Yesterday, Robyn told you about the return of the Swearing Chicago-accented botanist, who we first featured here in March. Tony Santore, the cussy guy in question, went all viral this week when a twitter video showed him rescuing a scared coyote pup; the video ends with cussy botany guy assuring the pup he'd take him to a "nice rehab facility and then they'll release you to the wild and you can eat some feral cats and squirrels."

Unfortunately, in replies to the viral video, we learned that the little coyote didn't make it:

Santore has also removed the video from his YouTube channel because too many of the replies were from jackholes who wish all coyotes were dead, because all cattle matter but predators are evil, also how dare he say "did some redneck shoot yer fokks?" THAT'S RACIST to people who insist there's no such thing as racism.

Nature is complicated, and that's the point. But here is a nice time with a visit to Arizona's Chiricahua National Monument:

Cop Psychology, Mountain Kingsnakes, Rare Rock Daisies & Rhyolitewww.youtube.com

Gotta like a guy who has his geology right but deliberately mispronounces "schist" because at heart, he's twelve years old.

Comfort Eagle (Or Eagle With Comfort Food)

After that bummer news about the coyote, here's a true-life Nature Not In Peril vidya for you. People see an eagle floating in the river and think it needs help. Ah, but the eagle is in great shape: Watch to the end!

OK, if you did not watch the video, tough doodie, because this follow-up has a spoiler as to why that fully operational battle eagle was floating in that river in the first place:

Other eagles videos were uploaded, including one showing a bald eagle doing the same in Alaska. Talk about risking the ire of Jeff Lebowski:

Of course, because Twitter IS terrible, some "unapologetically masculine" idiot decided the video offered a very important lesson for Hu-mons. (Please skip to next sub-heading if you'd prefer no intrusion of "Dear Shitferbrains" into your "Nice Things.")

Several replies noted that the eagle could well have been a lady (they're bigger than males, for one thing), and I jumped in to point out that a guy who hates people taking handouts is praising a creature that owes its survival as a species to Big Government:

Dude replied by explaining I obviously hate hard work. Gosh, he's smart:

I honestly don't think he even knows anything about eagles, man.

I gave it one last shot, because what the hell, counter-trolling is fun.

Gosh, guess he told ME.

Assorted Nice!

LA Times columnist David Lazarus is working on a live action remake of Chuck Jones's classic "Feed the Kitty" and we are here for it:

Just be careful when you bake up a batch of cookies, OK?

Also, we ALL needed this puppy.

Also, we fully agree with this tweet:

Was there an autotuned remix? It's the internet, so of course:

And finally, yes, this is real. Oops! We found it on Amazon, too.

And now it's brunchtime, for me and my baby.

[Worldbuilding / Peter's Evil Overlord List / Crime Pays but Botany Doesn't]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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